45% of UK data centres have suffered a natural disaster. Really?

A plague on all your server racks

Earlier this year I managed to sleep - somehow - through the Kent Earthquake. And in 2011 and 2012 about 30 centimetres of snow blocked my village for one or two days at a time. I also know someone who got flooded last year - she lives next to an estuary just a few kilometres away.

Five weather systems can collide over the British Isles, making for lots of weather - stuff happens. But how often do we get Really Big Weather?

Plastic garden chair on back - text Kent Earthquake - Never Forget

The Kent Earthquake of 2015: We shall rebuild

And what are we to make of the claims widely reported this week that some 45 per cent of the UK’s data centres experienced disruption to their data centre operation in the last 10 years due to “seismic activity or other natural disasters”?

Here is our exhaustively researched risk assessment. Is your data centre in a flood plain? Yes? You are in the wrong place. Stock up on sandbags. No? You’re golden and can safely assume that the Four Horseman of The Apocalypse will not be visiting your server racks for the foreseeable future.

A different matter of course if you outsource your data centres; according to a 2015 survey of 301 senior IT professionals in the UK, Germany and Turkey some 58% - have experienced disruption caused by a natural disaster in the last 10 years, compared with those that do not outsource (25%)”.

Turkey, we get - but the UK? Let’s go out on a limb here and stand by our risk assessment for managed hosting and co-lo firms based in geologically stable northern European countries. Cloud computing providers are inherently more problematic, but you will be wanting location requirements built in to SLAs to ensure compliance with the EU Data Protection Directive, yes?

Here is a snapshot of the research published June 16 and commissioned by Zenium Technology Partners, a data centre company that wants you to rent local:

  • One in two organisations say their DC environment could not withstand or continue to operate after a natural disaster.
  • Flood resistant? 45%
  • Earthquake resistant? 43%
  • Located away from physical or environmental hazards? 60%
  • Incidents in last 10 years? - Turkey 65%, UK 45%, Germany 30%
  • Maximum cost of incident? £500K (does that sound like a natural disaster to you?)
  • Outsource some operations? 64%
  • Outsourcing and considering more? 34%
  • Not outsourcing but considering? 36% (i.e. everyone who is not already outsourcing)
  • Outsourcing wanted within national borders? Turkey 87%, UK 86%, Germany 75%


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